Figures released by the Equality and Human Rights Commission show women working in Lancashire earn 17.1 per cent less than their male counterparts on average – a difference of £2.07 per hour.
Preston women earn 14.7 per cent less than men - a figure which decreases to 7.4 per cent if a woman works solely full-time, but skyrockets to 27.2 per cent when comparing part-time female workers with full-time male ones.
One successful local businesswoman, Sarah Southworth, managing director of Preston-based specialist cleaning firm SCS Facilities Services, said of the latest findings: “It doesn’t surprise me at all.
“Women are still undervalued in the workplace and have to fight that bit harder to get the recognition that they deserve which can often come a lot easier for male colleagues.”
Women in Fylde fare the worst in the area – their median hourly rate is 30 per cent below the equivalent figure for men.
South Ribble is not far behind, where the gender pay gap stands at 23.2 per cent. Chorley women earn 14.1 per cent less than men, and Lancaster women earn 11.1 per cent less.
Only in Burnley do female workers have cause for celebration, as they have a 6.9 per cent pay advantage, the figures show.
Nationally, women earn 18.1 per cent less than men according the study.
Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said: “Solving the gender pay gap is clearly a win-win for everyone.
“One of the most important factors is setting out what employers plan to do in response and how this fits with their overall approach to creating an inclusive workplace.
“However, these headline statistics are not specific and do not necessarily provide an accurate set of data when comparing like for like employment positions.
“Much more work needs to be done in terms of a gender pay gap analysis with comparable jobs and industries.”
Laura Hartley, of Lancashire-based Recuitment firm LHR Recruitment, said she was not surprised the gender pay gap figures.
She said it seemed to be more prevalent in senior roles, with some women feeling undervalued.
Laura, whose firm covers Lancashire and Greater Manchester, said: “We are increasingly seeing females from senior management seeking alternative employment.”
She said companies were in danger of losing staff and had to value the job, not the gender of the person doing it.
Another Lancashire businesswoman, Rachel Ratcliffe, who owns Rachel’s Yummy Scrummy Cakes in Poulton, said: “Unfortunately these results are not a surprise, though a disappointment. Women work just as hard and successfully as men, and have done for decades, yet the gender pay gap still hasn’t caught up.”
The North West is home to one of the lowest gender pay gaps, 17.3 per cent, with only Outer London coming closer to bridging the divide, which stands at 14.3 per cent.
Caroline Waters, deputy chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “For the vast majority of women the gender pay gap is still much higher than we realise.
“We must not be complacent and continue to ignore its true scale, but seek to understand the complex reasons underlying the deep chasms of inequality apparent across the country.
“Women are a vital part of all workforces. We must make sure any proposals to tackle the gender pay gap are strong enough to deliver the change everyone wants to see in every corner of Britain.
“Employers need the best talent and men and women must be able to make the most of opportunities open to them.”